One of the structures that is frequently blamed for hip pain is called the labrum—the rubbery tissue that surrounds the socket helping to stabilize the hip joint. This tissue often wears and tears with age, but it can also be torn as a result of a trauma or sports-related injury.
The clinical significance of a labral tear of the hip is controversial, as these can be found in people who don’t have any pain at all. We know from studies of the intervertebral disks located in the lower back that disk herniation is often found in pain-free subjects—between 20-50% of the normal population. In other words, the presence of abnormalities on an MRI is often poorly associated with patient symptoms, and the presence of a labral tear of the hip appears to be quite similar.
For instance, in a study of 45 volunteers (average age 38, range: 15–66 years old; 60% males) with no history of hip pain, symptoms, injury, or prior surgery, MRIs reviewed by three board-certified radiologists revealed a total of 73% of the hips had abnormalities, of which more than two-thirds were labral tears.
Another interesting study found an equal number of labral tears in a group of professional ballet dancers (both with and without hip pain) and in non-dancer control subjects of similar age and gender.
Another study showed that diagnostic blocks—a pain killer injected into the hip for diagnostic purposes to determine if it’s a pain generator—failed to offer relief for those with labral tears.
Doctors of chiropractic are trained to identify the origins of pain arising from the low back, pelvis, hip, and knee, all of which can mimic or produce hip symptoms. Utilizing information derived from a careful history, examination, imaging (when appropriate), and functional tests, chiropractors can offer a nonsurgical, noninvasive, safe method of managing hip pain.